4 yr. old son driving me nuts!

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-24-2008
4 yr. old son driving me nuts!
Mon, 03-24-2008 - 6:42pm

My son has recently turned 4 years old in march, he is enrolled in headstart, and he is an only child. Since he started headstart his attitude has changed drastically...and lately it's gotten really bad. He constantly tells me no when I ask him to pick up after himself, or to eat his dinner..or to even stand by me while we are out. I don't know what's going on with him. Today we went grocery shopping and he completely wouldn't listen to me. I made the mistake of letting him "walk" beside me while we got groceries..he ended up running everywhere but walking with me, so I grabbed him and tried to make him "sit" in the buggy. He started screaming, kicking me, even went so far as to TRY to bite me, but I kept on putting him back in the buggy. He has just no respect for me, I can spank his butt all I want and it doesn't do anything, I can put him in his bedroom as a punishment and he will scream, kick the door, cry and then ignore me when I come to tell him it's time to get out of his bedroom, he's been in his room a max of 15 mins, then my guilt kicks in and I apologize for spanking him and putting him in his room. He has also been into this "I want I want or the I need I need" thing...everytime we're at the store I tell him no when he starts to throw a fit. I can say NO all day long, punish him all day long...it just doesn't work, I don't know what to do with him!!! I am a first time mommy and trying to make it on my own with him, sometimes I feel so overwhelmed about everything! Please, any advice I can try on my son to get him to calm down, listen to me, and stop the "I wants I needs"- ???

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2008
Wed, 03-26-2008 - 9:39pm
I have a 4 yr old son also so I know where you are coming from. I have found that staying calm seems to make him more mad, but it gets better results. When I send him to his room, if he is hysterical, I let him calm down before trying to talk to him. But to let him know I mean business, I've taken toys away: for good. I pick one that he likes, not one of his favorites and not one I paid too much for! I tell him we are giving it to a boy that isn't so lucky and that's what we do. He has learned that if he won't clean, I will do it for him, but those toys won't be there anymore. As for the grocery store, I give small things for him to do, like picking out the red box, etc. and give freedom slowly, rewarding good behavior. I also made him a chart he fills with stickers when he does certain things and when the chart is full he gets a big reward: chuck e cheese, or a movie. Going at it alone with a strong willed boy is tough, but we can do it. Now that he has friends to model behavior from, it just keeps getting better! Sorry if I rambled too much! I wish you much luck and patience, you'll probably need it.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Fri, 04-04-2008 - 1:58pm
Glad to hear my 4 year old is not the only one who is behaving this way. It is so hard to stay calm, but I agree that he responds better when I do. I also take toys away when he won't pick up. I also have a magnet chart with certain chores/good behavior. When he earns enough magnets he gets play money that he buys prizes with. Sometime it works sometimes it doesn't. The thing I notice the most is when he doesn't get enough sleep he is more likely not to listen and throw fits. So on those days, I make sure he takes a nap. I know I get more cranky when I am tired, why wouldn't kids? I hope he grows out of this "phase" soon. I really need to read that book "The Strong-Willed Child"!
Suzanna :)
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-24-2006
Tue, 04-08-2008 - 12:41pm

I know how extremely frustrating this can be, but it does get better. I went through this with my son- and when I read how he kicked when you put him in the cart I was having flash back memories of my son doing the same thing and I ended up pulling the cart from the front to avoid getting my stomach kicked.

I've found it to be true that kids start to act out when they are about to do something big developmentally. Also, keep in mind he may also be seeking out attention since his routine has changed with school. The slightest changes can cause the strangest and most unsavory at times behaviors. We recently moved from DC to Orlando, and it took my son a few months to adjust from the move.

Your son is doing what every child does- test the limits and see how far he can push it. He is at the age now where he has ideas of what he wants to be doing and doesn't know how to cope when it's something he shouldn't be doing and is told no. Try to stay calm and talk to him. Try having him "use his words" like a big boy instead of acting out.

Let him know that if he can't behave himself in the grocery store he will have to ride in a cart. Think of some positive reinforcement to get you through your shopping- if you're a super good boy then I'll let you- _____. (something he enjoys like play outside when you get home, watch a dvd/tv, have a snack, read a favorite story)

I have a feeling things will calm down for you once he is completely settled into his new routine. There is no set time for adjusting to something new- so it may take a few weeks or a few months. Stick in there and goodluck!! My thoughts are with you!!

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-09-2008
Wed, 04-09-2008 - 10:12pm

Do you have my son's twin?!?!?! My son is actually 4 1/2 (will be 5 in August) and man I thought I had written that!!

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-06-2008
Thu, 04-10-2008 - 8:58am

Hi, I have a daughter that is just like that. She'll be 6 in a few months, and we've been trying to deal with her since she was 2! So it's been a long run. It is getting better though. We've tried spanking, and yellling, and being calm, and taking things away, and the chart, and honestly, I don't know if any of them have worked for more then a few days at a time. We have found with her though is that if she has a very strict schedule then she is better behaved. Breakfast, lunch and dinner at the same time every day, and no junk food and she is usually okay. If she acted up in the store she went directly into the cart. If we have to go downtown then I make sure I tell her before we go that we are not picking anything for her that day, and I try to stay away from the toys or anything that she could possibly want unless I have to go by them.

Have you tried leaving him in his room? for more then 15 minutes? Leave him in there until he's ready to come out and apologize for what he's done. It might take awhile, my dd has had days where she is in there for an hour or more, but she's better behaved afterwards. If you keep apologizing to HIM about putting him in his room he wont learn that he's done something wrong. It won't hurt him to be in there for awhile, its a safe place. Maybe if he is in there for a good long time he'll realize that mommy isn't going to give in and that he'd better start behaving

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